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Mr John Binks

John Binks, born 1766, was a lead miner and keen botanist who lived in or near Teesdale, County Durham.

Although chiefly noted now for having influenced the young James Backhouse, taking him on plant-hunting expeditions in Teesdale, he had a substantial enough reputation on his own account to be mentioned almost 30 years after his death. Richard Spruce's paper presented to the Botanical Society at Edinburgh on 11th January 1844 refers to a few of the plants that Binks discovered and recorded in Teesdale:

'it is little more than thirty years since "old Binks, the miner," discovered Gentiana verna...he and his friend the late Mr. Oliver of Middleton shortly afterwards added the no less rare Saxifraga Hirculus; and within the space of a few years they had become acquainted with nearly every flowering-plant and fern known to grow in Teesdale at the present day.'

John Binks (1766-1817) a lead miner of Middleton-in-Teesdale who collected simples for William Oliver in the course of which Binks discovered many of the “Teesdale rarities”. Had the Reverend John Harriman not moved from Barnard Castle to Eggleston in 1796, Oliver and Binks’ botanical discoveries and the subsequent botanical recognition of Upper Teesdale would have been delayed for a number of years. The botanical activities of Oliver, Binks, Edward Robson and Harriman in Upper Teesdale were effectively announced in the pages of English Botany which contributed to the botanical recognition of Upper Teesdale and led botanists to start visiting Upper Teesdale.


Davis, Peter. “Backhouse family (per. c.1770–1945).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. < > [accessed 14 January 2009]

Spruce, Richard, 'The Musci and Hepaticae of Teesdale' in The Annals and Magazine of Natural History Including Zoology, Botany and Geology..., Volume 13 (R. and J.E. Taylor, London, 1844), p.191.

Horsman, Frank (1998) Botanisin in Linnaean Britain : a study of Upper Teesdale in northern England., Durham theses, Durham University.